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This Label-Owning Country Artist Is Giving His Songwriters a Bonus

If implemented by other artists/labels, Adam Sanders says the bonus scheme would provide greater incentive for quality songwriters to stay in the business.

When indie artist Adam Sanders releases his six-song EP, I Wanna Be Somebody, on March 25, he’s making sure that his 10 co-writers feel like they matter.

Sanders will be setting aside 10% of the net streaming proceeds he receives as the owner of his label for a songwriter bonus. The move provides extra incentive for songwriters, who earn micropennies for streaming performances, to write with him in the future, increasing his access to Nashville’s top talents. Additionally, he hopes it provides a model for others to emulate in addressing a widely recognized industry inequity.

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“I want to become a part of the solution here instead of a voice that just talks about it,” Sanders says.

Under the program, his co-writers will be compensated for their specific titles. A label’s average take, he estimates, for 1 million streams would be $4,500. In that instance, if a song had two co-writers, they would split $450, each receiving a $225 bonus. That doesn’t sound like much, but Sanders says his 2021 release “What If I’m Right” logged 30 million streams. For a song with that kind of traction, each writer would earn a $6,750 bonus.

Sanders recognizes the bonus plan doesn’t solve songwriters’ issues, but he believes it’s a step in the right direction. Songwriters in a previous era earned royalties for album tracks every time an album was sold. But streaming now dominates the industry model, and meager streaming payouts put most of the income burden on radio play. Sanders says if more artists and labels take a similar approach, it provides greater incentive for quality songwriters to stay in the business. Meanwhile, he’s giving them an extra reason to work with him.

“I want to share the wealth,” he says, “because I realize that you’re only as good as your team. The songwriters are a huge part of my team.”

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